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When it comes to Shakespeare- keep it REAL

One of the most "used" strategies that many English teachers like to employ when teaching the works of William Shakespeare are parallel texts- those with translations into modern lingo or even altogether new characters involved with a parallel plot. 

While this may lower an affective filter for some, I say KEEP IT REAL- give them the real stuff.  The challenge is overshadowed by the cleverness of the Shakespearean text!

There are some tremendous works out there that can serve as a frontloading device to great works, in particular, The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.  For instance, Sharon Draper's Romiette and Julio and Mary Pearson's Scribbler of Dreams.  But forgoing the actual text robs even intervention level readers the opportunities to make connections to allusions and predict plot events through clever foreshadowing. 

I have been teaching Romeo and Juliet for the 12th time and have been enjoying the thrill of watching my most reluctant readers "get it" and wanting more!  They are not even interested in watching any video versions of the tragedy! 

That being said, these same students ARE in fact reading Romiette and Julio and will be writing to compare and contrast elements of both works. However, I am hearing that they are enjoying reading the "real thing" far more :-)

Give the REAL thing!

Comments

Amy Borrell

Patty: Your students are a lucky bunch. Thank you for sharing your year with us. We appreciate all your efforts. Have a wonderful summer!

Linder

Hi Patty,
Thanks for all the terrific tips and strategies you gave us this year. I know your colleagues will miss your insights. Relax and enjoy your time off -- it goes all too fast.
Thank you for all your hard work for Scholastic. Cheers, Linder

Mark Pennington

No sure if it's an either/or issue with parallel texts and Shakespeare. In Readicide, Kelly Gallagher claims that we over-teach comprehensible text. I would agree with his point. Reading text that has about 5% of the words that are unknown to the reader is the appropriate independent reading level.Complete directions at http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/reading/how-to-get-students-to-read-at-home/

However, most of Will's writing is not within that independent reading range. With teacher input and parallel texts, the plays are at the instructional level; however, I wouldn't turn kids loose on their own.

Mark Pennington
MA Reading Specialist/ELA Teacher

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Inside Patty's High School Grade Classroom are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.